In what might be the Jaguars most important game of the Gus Bradley era, the Jaguars look to avoid going 0-4 for the third time in four seasons. Let’s take a look at five keys to victory for the Jaguars.
Bortles has to be the good version of Bortles. There are two types of player that Blake Bortles can be. He can be the gunslinger who takes calculated chances, throws well on the run and is confident inside the pocket. Alternatively, there is bad Bortles. Bad Blake Bortles is careless with the football, leaves the pocket early so plays break down, and struggles with accuracy. The Bortles we’ve seen in 2016 has 5 touchdowns, 7 turnovers and a 49.9 QBR. Consistency and focus is the key with this young, but seriously talented quarterback. Bortles chose to cut his work with QB coaches short this summer despite still having a large amount to improve on after a record-setting season in 2015. I guess we’ll see which Blake Bortles shows up in London.
Figure out the run-game! All of the writers for Gen Jag have said this every week and the Jaguars have yet to find success in the run-game. The addition of Chris Ivory didn’t seem to provide the spark we needed but it’s imperative we find it somewhere. Both Kelvin Beachum and Brandon Linder will be returning this week, which will hopefully open up some holes. The Jaguars ran the ball more last week and have to show the same dedication to it this week in order to help out Blake Bortles throwing the football. We talk about the run-game helping out the passing-game but that’s a two-way street. Bortles needs to be more efficient in the passing game in order to help open up running lanes for Yeldon and Ivory.
Be more efficient. Our defense, although heavily criticized, has certainly been the more efficient side of the ball this year, which is a BIG surprise when looking back on the preseason hype surrounding what was supposed to be an explosive Jaguars offense. The offense is 29th in the league in third-down percentage, converting on only 28.6% of our third-down tries. This shows a lack of creativity in play calling, and can be attributed to our numerous penalties as well as our virtually absent run game. We need to get our yards-per-run average up to about 4 yards per carry and cut down on bone head penalties in order to improve our conversion percentages. The Colts have a battered and beaten defense that was struggling even before it was injury plagued. The Jaguars have the talent to be efficient but our coaching staff needs to stress the attention to detail necessary to win football games at the highest level.
Injuries. The Colts seem to be slowly gaining the edge in the “who’s more injured” battle currently raging between themselves and the Jaguars. Luckily, Dante Fowler Jr. looks like he’ll be able to go this weekend, leaving only Julius Thomas as the only significant question mark for this weekend. While we could certainly use Thomas, the Jaguars have enough weapons to still win matchups against a Colts defense that is averaging 400 yards of offense per-game for their opponents. The Colts will be without key receiver Donte Moncrief as well as offensive lineman Jon Harrison and cornerback Darius Butler. Phillip Dorsett (WR) and Joe Reitz (OL) are also questionable. The Colts are vulnerable and the Jaguars need to capitalize.
Be aggressive on defense. NO MORE conservative defense! It’s time to for our defensive line up and pin their ears back and go after the quarterback. We need to see at least five or six players pursuing the quarterback on every down and stop playing so much zone coverage. I want to see Jalen Ramsey, a strong and athletic corner, in press-coverage against T.Y. Hilton on most downs. We need to see Dwayne Gratz, Myles Jack and Johnathan Cyprien sharing coverage on Dwayne Allen, not Paul Posluszny, Arthur Brown, or Telvin Smith. Against an elite quarterback, (as taught by Aaron Rodgers third-down, back-foot 29-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams at the end of the first half), the Jaguars can be exposed when playing zone-coverage and only rushing four lineman. We have also allowed two rushing touchdowns to quarterbacks this year when sitting back in zone coverage. The Colts could be without two starting offensive lineman and two of their top three receivers. We need to start challenging opposing offenses, creating turnovers and carrying momentum from defense to offense earlier in games. We were conservative against the Chargers, another battered football team, and they jumped on us early and didn’t allow us to get our head above water. We need to start being the aggressor early in games and get teams on their heals.
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